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Hextall on Hockey: players can lead the way on fighting racism

The Minnesota Wild's Matt Dumba takes a knee during the national anthem flanked by the Edmonton Oilers' Darnell Nurse, right, and the Chicago Blackhawks' Malcolm Subban before an NHL playoff game in Edmonton, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson.
The Minnesota Wild's Matt Dumba takes a knee during the national anthem flanked by the Edmonton Oilers' Darnell Nurse, right, and the Chicago Blackhawks' Malcolm Subban before an NHL playoff game in Edmonton, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Many have criticized the NHL for not postponing playoff games as the NBA did in a historic statement against racial inequality.

But let’s be clear, and give the credit to those who deserve it: the NBA players.

The league — as in the commissioner and those who run the business — postponed playoff games because the players boycotted.

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The NBA players led the movement to this monumental moment in history, and that’s key.

Read more: Hextall on Hockey — Tired of talking about sexism in hockey

Prior to Wednesday evening’s NHL playoff games, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said: “I don’t expect the league to initiate a game stoppage. Our players are free to express themselves in any matter they feel appropriate.”

If you want to understand why the NHL playoffs skated on, ask the players.

Click to play video 'More NBA playoffs games to be boycotted as a response to police brutality in the U.S.' More NBA playoffs games to be boycotted as a response to police brutality in the U.S.
More NBA playoffs games to be boycotted as a response to police brutality in the U.S.

From a league standpoint, in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting, the NHL held a moment of reflection before each game. This is in step with how the NHL has handled expressing itself as a league — as the business — regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.

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It isn’t enough, but it is how the NHL as a league is showing its support at this time.

If there is to be more, it’s clear that the players, as Daly said, should express themselves in any manner they feel is appropriate.

They have the green light from the league. It’s up to them to lead the way.

Click to play video 'Canadian NHL player Matt Dumba becomes 1st to take knee during U.S. anthem' Canadian NHL player Matt Dumba becomes 1st to take knee during U.S. anthem
Canadian NHL player Matt Dumba becomes 1st to take knee during U.S. anthem